The book has shaped our culture and civilisation like no other medium. For centuries our knowledge about the world and its peoples has been stored, handed down and updated in books. The task of the German Museum of Books and Writing (Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum) is to collect, exhibit and process evidence of book and media history. Founded in 1884 as the Deutsches Buchgewerbemuseum (German Book Trade Museum), it was integrated in the Deutsche Bücherei in 1950 following the loss of its building and some of its stock in World War 2. It is the oldest book culture museum in the world, and also one of the most important with regard to the scope and quality of its collection.
The main focus of the museum's work today is on the book and its myriad aspects: as an ingenious invention and as the product of economic and technical processes, as a social icon and the most important vehicle of culture, as a work of art and as a censored and burned repository of ideas. Even after the transition to the era of digital networks, the museum has two main functions. It is a museum which acts as an academic documentation centre for book and media history. But it is also an inviting and vibrant place of cultural education, aimed at bringing culture to a wider audience and attracting visitors with its exhibitions and educational programmes.
The opening of the 4th annex building of the German National Library in Leipzig sees the German Museum of Books and Writing enter a new era. Air-conditioned store rooms, expanded work areas and generously proportioned public areas provide optimum conditions for the long-term storage and use of the collection. A modern reading room houses the specialist library and more than one million museum objects for research, study and practical use. The new display vault features a small selection of special collection items, ranging from medieval manuscripts and early Bible prints through to unique artists' books. The museum gallery is aimed at younger users aged between 6 and 16 in particular, and provides them with an opportunity to learn all about writing, books and paper in a more informal environment.
Serving as a showcase for the German National Library, the museum's new permanent exhibition provides an insight into 5000 years of media history. Entitled "Characters - Books - Networks: From Cuneiform to Binary Code", it spans everything from the rise of early writing systems via bookprinting with movable type through to the digital online world, and also offers a light-hearted overview of the future of the information society. As a supplement to the permanent exhibition, the virtual exhibition features trenchant histories, pictures, films and sound recordings related to 5000 years of human and media history.
Last update: 18.6.2014